Flooding and high winds were expected in parts of Southern California on Friday evening as Tropical Storm Kay looms offshore.
According to National Hurricane Center, the center of the storm was about 130 miles south-southwest of San Diego at 5 p.m. It still mainly affected the Mexican peninsula of Baja California. Kay made landfall in Mexico on Thursday afternoon, landing near central Baja California with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, along with heavy rain and powerful storm surge.
Kay’s maximum sustained winds now hover around 40 mph, and it was moving northwest at 12 mph. A turn to the west was expected on Saturday, taking it away from land.
Winds and moisture from the storm are moving into parts of southern California and southwestern Arizona. The heaviest rains are expected to fall east of San Diego in desert areas. Rainfall of 4 inches in mountainous areas was recorded Friday, with more could arrive Saturday morning, forecasters said.
Some isolated areas can reach 8 inches.
Kay helped set rainfall records for the date in San Diego County, including more than six-tenths of an inch measured at Campo, near the US-Mexico border, and San Diego International Airport; two inches were recorded at Lake Cuyamaca in the desert east of the city.
The National Weather Service had issued flash flood warnings for parts of nearby Imperial County through mid-afternoon. The New River, which runs through the county and crosses the US-Mexico border, was expected to overflow its banks. Flood watches continue through tomorrow for 8 million people in southern California, western Arizona and southern Nevada.
Flood warnings were in effect Friday evening for the Coachella Valley desert to Borrego Springs in San Diego County. The San Diego River swelled Friday and instantly brought images of a lush, green waterway through a city known for its dry weather.
Kay was kicking up waves, with four-to-six-foot sets expected and eight-foot waves possible through Saturday, federal forecasters said. The direction of the swell was however extreme given the position of the cyclone. The National Weather Service said the waves would come in from 180 degrees – due south.
Wet weather was an ally of firefighters, who said the rainfall was ‘slowing the spread’ of death Fairview Fire in Riverside County, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Friday night’s fire was measured at more than 27,000 acres with 5% surrounded, Calfire said.
A high wind warning was in effect until midnight in San Diego County and parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Parts of these regions could see gusts of up to 65 mph. A gust of 109 mph was recorded at Cuyamaca Peak in eastern San Diego County early Friday, according to NBC San Diego.
Tropical cyclones that hit Southern California directly are rare, as they often die amid relatively cold waters and strong Pacific winds. But thunderstorm activity associated with humidity, sometimes described by the Spanish word showersis a September rite in San Diego and Imperial County.
In Mexico, meanwhile, continued coastal flooding, flash flooding and landslides are possible throughout Baja California and parts of northwestern mainland Mexico through Saturday morning. In total, the peninsula could see up to 10 inches of rain by the end of the storm, with isolated patches of up to 15.
Tropical storm warnings are still in effect along both coasts of the Baja Peninsula. On the west side, the warning zone extends from Punta Eugenia north to the US-Mexico border. In the Gulf of California, the warning hits the coast between Bahia de Los Angeles on the peninsula and Puerto Libertad in mainland Mexico.
Lisa Torres, Marlene Lenthang, Catherine Prociv, Steve Strouss and Denis Romero contributed.